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Holding Darara is Terry Doherty, stud manager at Watership Down Stud

Darara with Watership Down's stud manager Terry Doherty

  PICTURE: Watership Down Stud  

Outstanding broodmare Darara dies aged 29

LORD and Lady Lloyd Webber's outstanding broodmare Darara, whose feat of producing four individual Group 1 winners has been matched or surpassed by only a handful of other mares in the modern era, died last week aged 29.

A daughter of Top Ville, Darara was bred in the purple as a half-sister to the Prix du Jockey Club winner Darshaan and Dalara, the dam of dual Group 1 scorer Daliapour. She had the racecourse ability to match her prestigious pedigree and she won the Prix Vermeille for her owner-breeder the Aga Khan.

Darara was sent to Goffs in 1994 as part of the Aga Khan's annual dispersal and she was purchased for Ir470,000gns as a potential foundation mare for Lord and Lady Lloyd Webber's Watership Down Stud in Berkshire by the operation's manager Simon Marsh and agent Charlie Gordon-Watson.

Darara fulfilled the role and the first two foals she produced under the Watership Down banner each sold for 500,000gns. Kilimanjaro was second in the King Edward VII Stakes and the Sadler's Wells colt Rhagaas finished third in the Prix du Jockey Club.

In 2000, not long after she was represented by her first Group 1 winner in Australia, the Aga Khan-bred Darazari, her progeny smashed records with Coolmore paying 3.4million guineas for her Sadler's Wells colt at the Tattersalls Houghton Yearling Sale - a record that is yet to be surpassed in Europe. The colt, named Diaghilev, won a Group 3 in France before being exported to Hong Kong where, under the new name River Dancer, he landed the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Cup.

Darara's breeding career came to a halt following the record sale in 2000. Barren for four years, it wasn't until a ground-breaking veterinary procedure, under the supervision of vets Twink Allen and Hugh Neil, that the mare started producing again and in 2004 she had a Selkirk filly named Evita.

The following year the mare gave birth to Dar Re Mi, who went on to be Darara's third individual Group 1 winner, following River Dancer and Darazari.Trained by John Gosden, Dar Re Mi secured a brace of Group 1 races as a four-year-old, the Pretty Polly Stakes and Yorkshire Oaks, before winning the following year's Group 1 Dubai Sheema Classic.

Dar Re Mi bids to follow in Darara's footsteps at stud and earlier this year gave birth to an Oasis Dream colt foal before being covered by Dubawi.

Darara's final foal in 2007 was the Tiger Hill colt Rewilding, who was bought at Book 1 of the Tattersalls yearling sale for 500,000gns by Darley buyer John Ferguson.

He developed into a top-class middle-distance performer, winning the Dubai Sheema Classic last year, becoming Darara's fourth Group 1 winner, before beating Australian champion So You Think in a titanic battle at Royal Ascot in the Prince Of Wales's Stakes.

After the birth of Rewilding, Darara was retired from a glittering stud career that included 12 foals, four of which were winners at the highest level and two more were Group 1-placed, earning a combined total of £7,250,000 on prize-money. Her progeny that were sold as yearlings grossed 4,900,000gns.

Madeleine Lloyd Webber said: "Andrew and I feel grateful and honoured to have owned such a world class foundation mare in Darara. It is difficult to quantify how important her contribution has been to Watership Down Stud.

"Luckily we own her two daughters so that her outstanding bloodline will continue. However, it was a very sad day for Watership Down Stud."




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